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One MBA Program Does Not Fit All 2010-03-08 08:58:52

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One MBA Program Does Not Fit All

March 5, 2010

By CIB | From CIB March 2010 Print Edition The ever-expanding number of MBA, EMBA and Executive Education programs can make it hard to decide which program is the right fit for you. Are you able to leave your job to study full time? Or would you rather have a part-time program that lets you continue to work while you study? Are you looking for a more C hina-focused experience? Do you want to start your own business or are you a mid-career executive with a technical background looking to hone your management credentials to ease your path to a corner office? Maybe it would help to talk to Bschool alumni about their experiences. CIB recently spoke with several C hina-based MBA and EMBA alumni and here, in their own words, they talk about their career accomplishments, why they decided to pursue a business school degree, what school they chose and why, and the lasting benefits of their program.

NEWMAN LU VIC E PRESIDENT UNITED WATER C ORPORATION PDFmyURL.com


AEMBA C LASS OF 2009 In 2004 we acquired a water company from a prefecturelevel city. I managed pre-due diligence, investment analysis and contract negotiations. After the acquisition, I was posted to the company for three years as executive director with overall responsibility for system restructuring, corporate culture restructure, team training, budget controlling and public relations. Through a joint effort with local teams, we transformed the company from a serious loss-making state-owned enterprise in 2003, to a profitable, modern enterprise, and were recognized as a "model of water undertaking in C hina" by the Ministry of C onstruction and World Bank research group. Many people from the local management team have since been posted to other company projects as senior managers. Previously I had mastered the concepts and methods of enterprise management through experiences, but lacked systematic study. For some problems encountered at work, I felt there was no consultation and communication channel. MBA study helped make up for deficiencies in these two areas, and at the same time I established wider connections to help my own career development. AEMBA is jointly organized by two well-known domestic and foreign universities ? Shanghai Jiaotong University and Marseille Business School. They have the advantage of an internationalized C hinese and Western education model. Most of the teaching professors come from abroad with a wealth of experience in both teaching and international business management. The majority of my classmates were from the world's top 500 enterprises. Analysis, problem-solving ability and teamwork are the most valuable things I got from my study at AEMBA. I often use some of the theories and methods learned from my MBA course to analyze and solve problems in my daily work. Many presentation and debate exercises in our case studies increased my ability to make reports and train employees. And I can always get help from my MBA classmates when I meet unfamiliar or trans-sector problems.

MARK SEC C HIA FOUNDER SHERPA'S DELIVERY SERVIC E CHINA EUROPE INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS SCHOOL (CEIBS) MBA, C LASS OF 20009 In 2001 I nearly lost the business. We were unprofitable, and burning through cash. I had to take another job with a media company, and I used most of my wages to PDFmyURL.com


continually support Sherpa's. It was during that time that I had to make some really tough decisions. In the end they paid off and the business was cash flow positive a few months later. This is one of my biggest accomplishments. I decided to get my MBA because I wanted to start my own business and I didn't feel like I knew enough about the accounting side of the business. It also helped me get a better grasp of finance and marketing. I spent a significant amount of time researching all the available English-language programs in and near Shanghai. What I liked the most about C EIBS was that they had their own campus that was not part of a larger university. It really meant a lot to me that everyone I would see was part of the same program, and spoke English. I did not want to be part of a group of students that in the big picture was just a small fraction of the students around. Also, it was apparent they were in the process of building something great. In the long run I wanted to be associated with a program that was the best, as I really thought C EIBS would be. Learning the difference between cash flow and profitability was something that really sticks out in my mind as being the most valuable thing I learned at C EIBS. I know it sounds basic, but it really is important to learn how you can run an unprofitable business for quite a long time if your cash flow model and your growth allow for it. Another invaluable thing that I learned (in Management 101) was that running your own business is more about relying on those around you than trying to do everything yourself. Ten people can get a lot more done than one! The network of C EIBS students has been fantastic. In fact, in November last year all of my fellow alumni of MBA99 voted me into C EIBS 15th anniversary business leader awards. Without them getting me on the ballot, I would have had zero chance of attaining such a prestigious award. LIU ERHAI MANAGING DIREC TOR, LEGEND C APITAL BEIJING INTERNATIONAL EMBA AT PEKING UNIVERSITY (BIMBA), C LASS OF 2003 One of my biggest career accomplishments is that I led a team which became No.1 in the VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) service in the very toughly regulated telecom market on the C hinese mainland over ten years ago. Another is that I successfully transformed myself from an operations-focused executive into a VC fund manager more than six years ago. BiMBA helped me a lot with this transformation. In my management practice, I gradually realized that financial and accounting knowledge was necessary for my PDFmyURL.com


future work. But my undergraduate major was electronic engineering, so I had to upgrade my skills. That's why I got my EMBA. I also hoped to meet more friends during my studies. I heard about BiMBA from a friend of mine at AT&T C hina. The international aspect of the program and Beijing University's background impressed me very much. I believe that we can find modern management practices in C hina's history. In addition, I wanted to gain more knowledge of foreign economics. At BiMBA, all the professors have an international background. I made many friends during my studies, including both professors and classmates. Not only did I learn a lot from them, it also is a valuable network for me. It's a treasure for me to develop this in the future. In terms of skills and knowledge, I use many of the solutions I studied at BiMBA to solve practical problems. Furthermore, I now build new solutions myself. Also, before my EMBA study, my understanding of business was very fragmented, so afterwards I tried to build a systematic knowledge system. It was an opportunity to understand many different types of businesses through my classmates because they came from different backgrounds and worked in different sectors such as healthcare, real estate and so on. BiMBA has a reasonable class schedule and they only teach on the weekends. Actually, in C hina most business schools usually have a four-day class schedule in order to keep costs low ? so that the professors only need travel to Beijing once. There is time pressure for students to do the case studies, which is difficult. However, it was still very tough to balance the EMBA study and the job. My solution was to apply what I was learning to my daily work.

MA XIN The LISBON MBA, C lass of 2009 I worked for a Brazilian company before my MBA. My role was business development. I worked almost four years in the same area and accomplished various market research jobs and project initiation with the team. I wanted to broaden my vision and open doors to more career opportunities, so I decided to get my MBA. I have an engineering background but in my work I needed to deal with other subjects, such as accounts and contracts. It was nice to learn new things on the job. Yet I wanted to have a wider perspective, which I think is necessary for my own development. I understood that MBA study could provide me with what I was keen to learn, so I decided to take a break and go back to school. PDFmyURL.com


I wanted to do my MBA in Europe. I was seeking a program that could provide sufficient knowledge, business insights and diversity, as well as an intensive program that had a shorter time commitment requirement. I met Ricardo, who was then marketing director of the Lisbon program, at the Shanghai MBA tour last year. He explained to me that Nova and C atolica, two renowned Portuguese business schools, were launching the first international MBA Portugal in collaboration with MIT and that the schools had guest professors from top business schools. It sounded promising and met all my requirements. I also speak some Brazilian Portuguese and I thought it would be easier for me to adapt and to learn in Lisbon compared to other cities. I like to try new things. It was an adventure since it was a first year program and there was limited available information about education in Portugal, but it turned out to be a good investment. Knowledge and inspiration are the most valuable things I got from my study at Lisbon. It is not only the cases and theories, but more importantly, the exchange of ideas with professors from Nova, UC P and MIT and the discussion among colleagues from different backgrounds and arguments from different cultural perspectives. I also got a vision for approaching and understanding new things. I just got my diploma last C hristmas and I am planning my next step at the moment. One interesting thing I noticed is that I am seeing more business opportunities than before and I am always thinking how to make things work. I think the value of my study will gradually show in my career in the years to come. Of course I am also receiving tangible help from the school. The alumni network has given me quite a lot of advice. But the more important thing is the quality of the program.

ZHANG YU SALES DIREC TOR, EMERSON PROC ESS MANAGEMENT C HINA INTERNATIONAL MBA, TSINGHUA UNIVERSITY C LASS OF 2004 I can't say how successful I am now. I just feel lucky to be in my current position as the sales director for a Fortune 500 company, and I have had the opportunity to learn a lot of things on the job. I have been with Emerson for five years. C urrently I am in charge of a sales team of 300 people and in a good market our annual sales revenue could reach USD 200 million. Before joining the MBA program, I had about four years of work experience and I was thinking about my future, and whether I wanted to broaden my experience with more specialized knowledge [of business]. I decided to broaden my experience and to do this, getting PDFmyURL.com


an MBA was the best choice. I considered Tsinghua University's program to be the best MBA program in C hina at the time. They cooperate with MIT, which is one of the top universities in the world. This program is also the first one [where a foreign university] cooperates with a world famous university in C hina. Only excellent students are able to attend the program. I chose Tsinghua first because I cherish the brand and the alumni resources of Tsinghua very much. Second, as an engineering student, I definitely would choose Tsinghua over others. Third, I was very attracted to their International MBA program because of its cooperation with MIT. Much of the coursework and the teachers come from MIT and the required courses are taught in English. The alumni resources are the most valuable thing I got from my study at Tsinghua. When I joined the program, I felt very proud of my accomplishments in my past work and study. However, when I came to Tsinghua I found there were so many talented people from different sectors and careers. They were young, passionate and ambitious. It was wonderful every day to study together with this group of excellent people. I enjoyed it, and I learned a lot of fresh and interesting things from them. After graduation, nearly all of my classmates have progressed very well in their careers. What the MBA program tries to teach isn't a technique. It is a kind of capability to study. They are teaching you to think, to learn how to study by yourself. The fact is all the knowledge is in the textbooks, you could learn it by yourself. After you have developed the ability to study, it becomes second nature for you to do this in future work which, as we all know, is very important. Generally speaking, MBA students can learn faster and more in-depth than others.

SILAS ZHOU DIREC TOR OF SALES, GREATER C HINA, REVOLABS RUTGERS INTERNATIONAL EMBA C LASS OF 2009 My biggest career accomplishment so far is that I exceeded the revenue targets for the Asia Pacific region amid the economic downturn, with 24% compounded annual growth rate (C AGR) over three consecutive years. I had the perception that many business leaders with an engineering degree became more skillful business executives after they completed EMBA courses. Therefore, I always wanted to add an EMBA degree to my professional profile in addition to the bachelor of electrical engineering degree I hold. PDFmyURL.com


I chose Rutgers because Rutgers flies their professors from America to the overseas sites to teach each class. This turns the Rutgers satellite locations into a genuine extension of the Rutgers campus in New Jersey. My class had 34 students but 15 nationalities. This combination provided a natural cross-cultural environment that is tailored for the study of international business. I have certainly felt less stress in my day-to-day international business work after my EMBA study equipped me with enhanced problem-solving skills.

SIMON HU MANAGING DIREC TOR BANNER ENGINEERING, GREATER C HINA C HEMBA C LASS OF 2007 I joined Banner Engineering five years ago after working for several well-known multinational companies. Starting as the general manager and then as the managing director, I've set up the Banner C hina organization and business and lead the growth of our market share from 3% to almost 10%. Now Banner is one of the most famous brands in the C hina sensor and industry automation market. I was chosen as one of "top 10 executives for industry automation 10 years" by gongkong.com. In C hina, we have a saying, "You should learn everyday." The world is changing fast. After many years of practical hard work, I thought it was time to refresh my knowledge so I decided to get my EMBA. I needed fresh knowledge and brand strategy to face the competition and challenges in the real world. It's good to get valuable knowledge and experience from professors and other people in the class. I also like the feeling of coming back to school and sitting in the classroom, and I enjoy learning as a student and making more friends. I work for Banner Engineering which is a Minnesota company. I visited Minneapolis often so I know Minnesota University and the C arlson School very well. Many of my colleagues and friends in Minnesota graduated from this school. C arlson is a very good business school and Minnesota University has a very good reputation in the United States. Lingnan (University) C ollege is close to my home and I like it very much. Both universities have a good reputation and high teaching qualities, and that's why I picked C HEMBA for my EMBA study. Experiencing the program has proved that I made the right decision. I think C HEMBA improved my strategic thinking, which is very helpful for real business situations. It gave me brain-storming ideas for my Banner C hina strategy and management and PDFmyURL.com


I have implemented many of these from the class. Through discussion of so many challenging cases in the class, we've learned practical applications of key principles which are also very useful for the real business world. The school has a Virtual Team Project which is unique compared with other EMBA programs. C HEMBA students need to work for six months with EMBA students from Minneapolis, Vienna Austria and Warsaw, Poland, for this virtual project and paper. This special activity reinforces the concepts from class and helps students build global views by study and discussion of the project and paper with students from other countries. I also gained valuable skills for cross cultural communication and cooperation. I've always viewed my career as a journey by taking on newer and broader challenges. The C HEMBA study allows me to gain the best thinking in business leadership, and has illuminated my blind spots and reinforced my strengths. It could take many, many years in the workplace to gain what's taught here. I think I will benefit from my C HEMBA study throughout my life. It's never an easy job to balance work and study, and I have a family as well. I'm a busy guy, and I joke that I didn't realize how much free time I had before I started studying, or how much time I didn't really use well. My first step was learning (or re-learning) study habits, not just for self-study but also in collaboration with my study team. I made a great schedule for work, studying and family in those two years; for example, using the time when my family was sleeping, and establishing roles and responsibilities with my team and delegating more so that I can put more emphasis on strategic decisions and have more time to study. Actually my management team grew fast and did a very good job during my two years of study. C HEMBA's alumni office does a very good job organizing alumni activities. It is very valuable for alumni to keep up their relationships and build the network by sharing their experiences and enjoying each others friendship. It's a good opportunity to get to know some great guys and make new friends and update information. It's another way to study and it's good for business. LI HONG TAO ENTREPRENEUR RENMIN UNIVERSITY MBA C LASS OF 2003 I'm working on commercial real estate development and investment. I have put together seven commercial projects with Zhengda Group and Tesco worth a total of about RMB 30 billion (USD 146 million). I decided to get my MBA to increase my knowledge and broaden my horizon. Also an MBA is different from ordinary post-graduate education. It focuses on practical education. I'm doing actual work, not theoretical research. I need to be able to find solutions for the problems I encounter in my work through learning. Also, I can shorten my trial and error period through examining case studies of successes PDFmyURL.com


and failures. It gives me a higher starting point. And finally, it allowed me to interact with a large number of classmates who are also engaged in management work. We talk, inspire and learn from each other. And more importantly, all my classmates are potential business resources, who are likely to have business opportunities. I chose Renmin University because it is the first school to introduce an MBA education in C hina and it has a wealth of experience in MBA education. Renmin University is also famous for humanities and social sciences and has great resources among the teaching staff. The most valuable thing I learned from my MBA study was learning how to build a complete knowledge framework and make all the information systemized. I also learned study methods from the course. It's better to learn how to do something rather than having someone just tell you what to do. They trained us in how to think. It taught me how to solve problems. The motto "Seek truth from facts" as well as the cultural environment at Renmin University influenced my philosophy and value a lot. Since my study at Renmin University, when I meet problems I no longer feel at a loss but now have quick and clear judgment. Not to mention the fact that there are a lot of ready-made solutions I can refer to from the cases I have learned.

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One MBA Program Does Not Fit All